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Monday, April 1, 2013



(An A to Z 2013 Challenge Entry)

It’s April 1st and it appears this A to Z event isn’t some cruel April Fool’s joke...

So, the challenge begins! I have no doubt this is going to drive me mad, but felt it would be great practice and should open some doors to connecting with fellow bloggers. I’m curious of how the appeal will be, being I chose to focus on my journal/personal blog instead of my fiction blog. I also passed on picking a specific theme; something that would have heightened interest and made everything worlds easier.

With no theme, the topics will be random. I do, however, plan to blog a little about my writing projects intermittently. They will be sprinkled throughout the chaos that is about to ensue.

As a first time participant, I’m just going with the flow, all the while attempting to avoid becoming completely frazzled. The concern of keeping up with not only my own blog entries, but those of fellow bloggers, is a real one. Knowing that others are diving head first into the same murky waters, though, is comforting. At least I’m not alone.

No map, compass, or survival skills? Sounds good, let’s do this!

Write What You Know

I figured the most fitting place to begin would be with After Armageddon. It is, after all, the reason I stumbled upon the A to Z Challenge to begin with, so it would only seem fair. 

After Armageddon is a story I began to partake in once NaNoWriMo came to an end. Taking a break from my NaNo story, I thought blogging would be a great way to keep actively writing until the dreaded rewriting process. The idea for this story has been with me since early 2008, and was technically imagined as a TV series. For a period of time, I contemplated dabbling in screenplays/scripts, but never went through with it.

I am uncertain how common it is, but I see all my projects in visualized movie format — playing out in my mind — needing only to figure out how to write what I see. Considering I was deep within a writer’s block funk, the fruition of those ideas were rarely birthed. I created some simple outlines, but never advanced beyond that.

Eventually the idea resurged and I wanted to explore it, only this time in novel form. Instead of attempting to jump right in and tackling it, I thought I would write it over a period of time as a blog series. It wouldn’t be as daunting if piece by piece, rather than a full blown assault; easy peasy.
I was mistaken.

I feel most at fault was my departure from one of the Golden Rules of writing: write what you know. While I don’t fully agree — I think going outside your comfort zone helps you learn and grow, even with writing — I can completely understand how it makes things easier. I’m more accustomed to writing Fantasy/Adventure, and creating the world the events take place in.

After Armageddon is a Post Apocalyptic Fantasy/Sci-Fi based story taking place on Earth. A story that I can add various creations to, but want to retain a sense of realism. Sense of realism... I’ve a feeling that statement will completely bite me on the ass with what I have in mind for After Armageddon. Regardless, this lack of knowledge on various topics has me researching a lot of things, which eats up a lot of time.

It was during this research that I came across Shannon at The Warrior Muse. She had up an article/blog entry talking about writing post-apocalyptic stories. It was a lot of help, and I subscribed to her blog, which in turn lead me to hearing about the A to Z Challenge.

Another factor creating a challenge is that I didn’t start where planned. When the idea came to me, it was end of this story. It was something that I wanted to create and from there worked backwards. Eventually the story spiraled into more than I had anticipated; expanding well beyond the “end” I had envisioned. I feel a starting point is important when you tell your story. After Armageddon was meant to take place specifically in the not so distant alternate future, accompanied by a series of flashbacks throughout.

I got wrapped into a few specific scenes, though, that I really wanted to write. They take place before the main bulk of the story; essentially what would have been the flashbacks. This made things more difficult, but I found (thankfully) that doing this opened up a flood of ideas for the story — from additional characters and events to plot connections later in the series. With the third chapter, I‘m slowly attempting to shift into this other section/timeline of the story. We will have to see how the transition goes.

So, with the fear of not writing realistically, researching, entering uncharted territory, and other life contributions my pace has been hindered. I’ve finally released the third part and hope to continue regularly, albeit a bit slower than desired. Having just shifted the series to my own blog — originally posted on a collaborative blog — and having such a long delay since the last post, I assume I lost a handful that were keeping up on it.

That brings to light the other most important factor I seem to constantly forget. It’s for me. I love others reading and critiquing/discussing my writing, but ultimately it’s for myself; to keep doing what I am passionate about doing. Practicing and plugging away, finally after so many years of lost time. I’m treating the blog series as sort of a rough draft. That is why there will be random edits made over time. One of these, I’ve a feeling, will be the timeline. Others will just be minor grammar/spelling edits.

As for writing what you know? I’d like to believe I know people, and my stories are all very character driven. So, while I may not know much about military protocol, complete effects of earthquakes, and alarm system capabilities when power is lost, I feel those things will be background to what is most important: the characters.

What’s Your Story About?

This is a question I heard a lot during NaNoWriMo. It makes sense, right? You’re writing a story, and you’re interacting with other writers doing the same. Why wouldn’t you ask that question? As logical as it sounds, I’ve always had a strong sense of avoidance to it.

It’s like I have the defense mechanism of keeping my ideas safely guarded and secret. This isn’t necessarily because I think my ideas are amazing, but more that they are mine. Sharing these ideas would mean having to share some of myself. Also, I hate spoilers and feel that I will somehow give something away. It makes no sense, but it is what it is.

I can only imagine the scenario if I ever attempted to pitch my book for publishing:

“Well, you see, this thing... this event takes place. The story takes place X amount of time after said event, and these characters are striving to survive,” I’d begin.

“What exactly is the event? What happens? What happens to your characters along the way?”


“Uh... stuff... and then more stuff... you see?” Met with blank stares. “Once you read it, you’ll completely understand!”

Yeah.. I’ve a notion that won’t go over too well. What can you do? If there was a trailer for the series I’d want it reminiscent to earlier M. Night Shyamalan movies; Vague yet intriguing. I hate how so much is spoiled in trailers nowadays!

Anyway, it has to be maddening for one of my brothers who I’ve signed on to be my soundboard. The conversations aren’t so much different from the above. Even worse is I know he’s likely to read it at some point, and hate ruining anything. He will bring up one point/topic, and I will say that point/topic is explained or irrelevant because of X, Y and/or Z which have yet to be revealed to him. Oh yes, it drives him mad! Muahahahahaha!

I’m getting better with it, I swear. But... but no pinky swear. Just saying.

What I can say is that the story is set to be gritty and geared towards adults. Violence, blood, and vulgarity will be prominent. There are religious themes, and like most of my writing, various theories/beliefs are intermixed.

Uh... So WTF is Your Story About?!

To be honest, I haven’t exactly ever come up with a fitting synopsis of After Armageddon. While I know the endgame, The inner workings are still very much a work in progress.

Essentially it’s a story about a cataclysmic event that changes the world as we know it, and how those that survive must adapt and cope with this change. Specifically focusing on a handful of people as they fight for their lives and quite possibly the future of the world; some by choice, others by circumstance.

Sound pretty generic? Yeah, I thought so too.

So you see, this event takes place... and stuff happens. But guess what? There are people in it! Not only that, but they have to survive through the aftermath of said event!


I'm working on it, I swear! But... you know... not pinky swear. That’s serious business.

If interested in checking out what I have out so far, just remember it’s always best to start from the beginning.

The Early Arlee Bird Gets the Worm Word

Upon registering to the A to Z Challenge I was informed who it was exactly that begun the challenge: Arlee Bird. He has been there from its humble conception, building it up and helping it metamorph into the beloved event it is today. Each year, more and more participate and now there is no going back!

It just goes to show how a simple idea can spawn great things and bring such a wide variety of people, of different backgrounds, together. Its a beautiful thing really, and is a reason I like a lot of these types of events. Regardless of our upbringings, beliefs, passions, we all have a connectedness. This is one of the ways we ignore those differences and engage with one another. We write! We encourage one another! We curse the letters X and Z!

So I’d like to give thanks to Arlee Bird for creating such a fun event, and I look forward to giving it my first go. I plan to participate from here on out; year after year.

You can visit Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out! Good luck to everyone participating!

Que the Interactions

I’ve come to notice a handful of blogs place questions at the end of their entries. I’ve also read articles stating it is a great way to engage your readers. It seems clumsy to me, but I am attempting to follow suit...

Have you ever strayed from “Write What You Know” when writing a story? If so, how have you managed the challenges it presents? Are you secretive/hesitant about sharing your story ideas or do share with wreckless abandon? Does anyone actually take pinky swearing as seriously as I do?


  1. I'm pretty daunted myself. I just had to take a month off, so I'm jumping from no blogging into blogging every day. haha

    BUT, I have an awesome partner to work with this time, so I guess that will lighten the load. In the meantime, this challenge sounds like a really cool way to get to meet a ton of new people.

    I wish you the best of luck with it Jak!!

  2. I don't write but I paint/draw/make a mess instead and I guess it is the same if you work on something you are not entirely comfortable with. It results in a lot of screaming, throwing and wasted paper but I always get there eventually!

  3. I think this month is going to be a blast! The possibilities are endless!

  4. @Tamara - You can do it! I'm excited to see what you two do with A to Z and beyond :)

    @Poke - I suppose, it would be be the same in any creative (or non-creative come to think of it) situation. I wish I could paint... I used to draw, but haven't in years and years. I'm interested in seeing some of your work and plan on stopping by. Good luck with the A to Z!

    @Hangingout - It IS going to be a blast! Though, I can see the potential of falling behind if something comes up lol Trying to keep ahead of the game. Good luck!

  5. Pinky swearing is the same as with blood but without the pain. Very serious business. I very much enjoyed your non-description of the story. :)
    I am new to this challenge, too. It should be loads of fun, especially weeks Q and X.
    Good luck!

    1. Thanks! I knew I couldn't be alone :) I've been a bit worried about my post lengths, and the non-descriptiveness. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Welcome to the challenge, I hope we both survive until the end! Good luck to you, as well.

  6. Hey Jak, I'm going on two years straight of not missing a day and though I winged it last year my first week at least will have a theme. Just keep at it, anything can be believable if properly presented.

  7. Hey there. Glad to meet another writer in this madness! I know that at some point this month, I will blog about my novel and try to tell people what it's about... but yeah, that's not always easy to do, is it? :)

    Welcome and good luck! I will be following along with you!

    1. Hello hello, I was curious if I could have the blog addy so I can make sure I have the right one to follow please? Thank you much!

    2. Kristen from The Mind Meanders? Just want to make sure cause the ID shown doesn't display that blog in its profile listings. I think I've ran into 2 Kristens and a Kirsten so far :)

  8. What you're doing with your take on the A-Z Challenge - theme free and on your personal blog - is exactly what I decided to do as well. I considered taking part on my Writing blog too but since I'm not freelancing it didn't seem like I'd be able to get a good foothold on all things a-z when faced with a specific theme. All things a-z of my randomness, well, that should be a piece of cake.

    I love character driven pieces, your story sounds really intriguing to me as that's the same way I write most of my fiction. Murder, dystopia, romance, etc. don't really have any meaning without the characters behind it all. Looking forward to hearing more about After Armageddon.

    Pinky swear is serious business. Truth.

    Looking forward to reading along your journey & more! Good luck with it :-)

    Randomness and Lunacy

  9. Hey dude! No wonder blogging is so epic for you - you really do pour out a pint of your soul's ephemeral spirit-blood with every post!

    (I say that like I don't do *exactly* the same thing. I just hit the kitty cruise control this month because there's no way I could do all 26 days otherwise. You are heroic for attempting this.)

    Also, for what it's worth, I totally feel you on the daunting nature of the fiction-writing task. Writing a novel is like buying one of those model kits from the craft store. You start out all excited, especially at the sight of that gorgeous picture on the box. Only the pieces inside don't seem to make *quite* that same picture. Which is no problem at first, but after many hours of snipping and gluing, sticky fingers, dropped bits, and improvisations, you start to wonder if all these stupid bits and pieces are ever going to make anything at all - whether it's really as bad as it looks right now, whether you used the wrong parts in the wrong places, whether you can still salvage it or whether you even still want to, whether you're just some kind of clueless, helpless, hopeless rube...

    ...but boy, if you can get through all that and Write It Anyway, it sure sounds like you have the makings for a TERRIFIC story.

    Also: it's going to be all I can do to keep my blogging head above the deadline waters this month, but I would love to sit down at more leisure and read your beginning. Until then: blog in glory!

  10. Oh, no, I don't share my stuff at all until I feel like it's done. That might not be the best approach, but it takes me so long to feel like I've perfected something, and I can't bear for someone to see it before it's 'tight.'

  11. I've thought about doing screenwriting but never went anywhere with it either. Just thought about it. Hee hee. :)

  12. @rch - Very cool you made each day by winging it. I think the poetry is sweet being it's national poetry month, as well, no? 2 birds 1 stone :)

    @Kristen - Thanks! It's really hard for me to do, but I hope you can manage to pour it out. Appreciate the follow. We will see how everything progresses.

    @Jenn - Yeah, with the choice between my writing blog, and personal blog, I felt it there wasn't much contest determine which would be less stressful. There are a few people I've met who are doing more than one blog, and I don't see how they can do it. That is pretty hardcore lol

    I love anything/everything random, as I am a pretty random individual myself. So, I am quite drawn by your blog title alone. We will see what random topics come about on our journey together! Looking forward to it.

    @Tex ! Well, maybe not so heroic. I will be likely attempting to tone down the length of my entries, otherwise I may run into trouble. Still uncertain I can manage that, though. I really like your writing style and think the GrammatiCats is awesome!

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, it means a lot. I will just keep trying to plug away and eventually I hope to reach the end. I know once I get to the point of actually finishing a rough draft of a novel I will feel a lot better. Until I have to edit/rewrite that is heh

    Definitely not expecting anyone to take the time to read any of my fiction during the A to Z, that would be asking a lot lol

    This morning I spent a few hours reading entries, making comments, and attempting to write a new entry. Then I came home to find more comments and posts to respond/comment to. I'm thinking... holy crap this is only Day One.

    Can't wait for the next grammar lesson/tip!

    @Kianwi Ah! I am glad I'm not alone with that then. I think I frustrated some of my new NaNoWriMo friends when I wasn't sharing details about my story. BUT, I may make an attempt on the A to Z... we shall see. I am very particular, if that wasn't obvious already. Hope you keep in touch :)

    @Kimberly - Anything steer you away from it in particular? I think learning some of the ins and outs would be very beneficial, even if never specifically doing it.

  13. I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic (which you likely already know), and I think it IS that element of humanity that brings people to the subject. Much like The Stand, Lord of the Flies (which I realize isn't post-apocalyptic, but it addresses the same issues...people forced together under stressful circumstances, trying to survive, and facing their own humanity), etc. I like the interaction, the study of what happens with each character, how each deals with it. But yeah, unfortunately, the synopsis is important, because it's what catches an agent/editor's attention. You'll get it, though. Don't let the details bog you down or it's so easy to get deterred from the important part...writing.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    1. I agree, especially with those types of genres, that humanity is what draws people in. Sadly, I've never read The Stand (as it will be kind of explained in my B posting oddly enough). Wanted to for a long time, but have only seen the mini series, which I've heard follows along decently with the book.

      At some point I hope to have the ability to make up a synopsis with little to no trouble. It will just take some time.

      Publishing, agents, details are all factors that played a part in my previous writer's block and I am doing all I can to not let it overtake me once again!

      Thanks much Shannon :) Happy writing!


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